I wake up and it begins. I toss and turn in my bed as I try to shut off the images of past failures that flip through my mind like a slideshow.  Then come the doubts about current endeavors, followed by worries about future ones. This worry gets into my blood, and I feel like an agitated bottle of agua com gas and everything will fizz out if the top gets taken off.

I guess it’s about time to talk about it, the a-word…anxiety.  If freakin’ Vinny on Jersey Shore can talk about it, so can I.  It colors about everything that I do.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even my greatest enemy.

I’m not talking about a little anxiety one might feel just before going on a stage to sing or give a presentation. It’s more like a constant clawing little beast, always scratching within my brain and gnawing at my belly. It makes me worry a lot that something bad is going to happen, even if it’s pretty much likely that it won’t. And I become overly preoccupied with all manner of things: work, friends, family, money, etc. It can range from a panic attack to just a mildly stressful feeling, but it’s almost always there.

Most people find it hard to comprehend unless they have anxiety, too. In fact, those of us with clinical anxiety can often sniff it out in others. But that’s helpful because we can empathize with each other. It’s possible to say to them:  “Well, I was having a panic attack earlier this morning, but then I went for a run and I feel better.” They don’t look at you like you are a crazy person when you talk about your episodes. It’s just part of life for us. It’s a matter of managing it daily that is tricky.

I could take drugs for it, but I don’t.  I’ve gone through therapy and tried different herbal supplements, but it turns out that exercise is the most effective form of treatment for me–and I mean, a sweaty, heavy breathing, muscle-aching workout, not a walk around the block. I focus on the exercise, and then it wears me out. After that, I’m too tired to let anything get to me. Add to the exercise lots of regular sleep.

If all goes well, I’m kind of like a well exercised puppy.  I just want to run free, snooze in a comfy bed, and then I’ll be relaxed. Reminds me, it’s time to let the dog out before I go to Capoeira.


The warrior goddess

When I was in grade school, I had to write a report about someone who I wanted to meet, real or mythical, deceased or alive. In the report I also had to describe what I would show that person about my life.  I was obsessed with Greek mythology in second grade, mostly due to lessons from my teacher about the topic (yes, teachers, you do make lasting impressions), so I wrote about showing the goddess Athena around my suburban California hometown.  Not sure how well that would have worked out had Athena been real, but oh well…I’ve mentioned how naive I can be, haven’t I?

But the feeling behind it was real.  I idolized Athena in the truest sense–I wanted to embody someone who was intelligent, creative and athletic–strong in mind and body.  Athena is the real Wonder Woman–not only a goddess of war and wisdom, but in Greek mythology, she is credited with teaching humans the art of agriculture, pottery, etching, and more.

Somewhere between now and grade school, I lost my obsession with Athena, but she appeared in my mind today. I’ve been thinking about her because I’ve been thinking about the real women in my life who inspire me to continue on the direction I’m going in my life now. These are women who I’ve crossed paths with in life who have the physical strength and intelligence of warriors–ones that have the capability physically and mentally to take on the challenges of real life, but also show the occasional vulnerabilities that make them real, and remind me that we all have weaknesses to deal with everyday, be it a sprained wrist or a broken heart.

I thank you lovely women…hope you know who you are…in fact, call me, and I will tell you if made the cut. ;p

No good deed goes unpunished

I don’t actually believe that title above, but I also don’t believe that people are rewarded in a karmic way for good deeds.

For example, last night as I waited for the BART train home, I heard a woman crying on the other side of the platform.  She had been clipped by a car door as she was riding her bicycle and had hit the pavement pretty hard. She was shaken up and at least somewhat disorientated because she was waiting alongside the wrong set of tracks if she wanted to go to the East Bay, which was where I was going.

I wasn’t in a rush, so I walked over to see if there was any way I could help her.  Knowing how crappy it feels to eat it on a bike, I offered her my phone so she could call her aunt to pick her up at the station in Oakland, and then sat with her on the train until we got through the Transbay tunnel. While we rode the train, I asked her how she felt, gave her some suggestions on what to do to feel better, in addition to a tin of Tiger Balm I happened to have in my bag (one of the items I pack when I train Capoeira).

As we parted ways  in West Oakland, she gave me a high-five in thanks, and I made my way down the stairs to head home.  As I got out onto the road, something didn’t feel right. I looked down and noticed my back tire was flat.  I didn’t have a repair kit, and my boyfriend wasn’t around to give me a ride, so I was faced with either waiting for a bus or hoofing it.

West Oakland isn’t the nicest neighborhood, but buses don’t come along that frequently either, so I chanced the walk home.  And yes, I made it safely.

So, my point is, something “nice” didn’t happen for me because I did something kind. Nor was what happened particularly terrible, either, just inconvenient.  And of course, these two situations are only coincidences and are not related in any way except for the space of time in which they happened.

But why did I help her? Because I know it sucks to get hurt like that and want to be in the comfort of your own home, but you’re not. And it makes me feel better to know that someone else might have been comforted by something that I did.  And I think that doing something nice for someone else for no reason makes the world a less sucky place.

New year, new post

After attending a cousin’s son’s wedding on New Year’s Eve, I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am that I was born into this specific family.

You don’t get much choice when it comes to family, and some people are not as lucky as I, especially those who faced physical and mental abuse by people that they should be able to trust. But I can say that even if things aren’t always perfect, because of my family, growing up I never had to go hungry, always had a warm bed to sleep in,  freshly laundered clothes, etc.  And as an adult, I still know I can call a cousin, or an uncle if I need a place to stay for the night, or just meet up with someone for a meal.

I could write for hours about how important my family is to me, but I won’t bore you. Just something to mull over the next time you find yourself among family, be it yours or the brood of someone else.